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Jun 28, 2008 10:53 AM

Inn at Little Washington - Is it worth it NOW?

Sorry, I know there have been so many posts, but I cannot find anything really recent. We are Chicago folks, used to the likes of Alinea, Charlie Trotters, Moto, Tru, Schwa and many others. We are planning a trip to Shenendoah in late July and have a Friday reservation at the Inn for dinner at 6:00 PM. Our question is, is this place worth dragging the dress clothes along for the trip? Is this still a dining experience, or is this a place that has seen its day, and we will be unimpressed and be wishing for L2O, Seasons, Les Nomades, Everest and the others mentioned above? Really appreciate your advice, and would be happy to reciprocate on Chicago! Thanks!

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  1. Yes, it's still worth it. I think it was better 10-15 years ago, but it hasn't lost its place among the best this area has to offer. You 'might' find a better meal on occasion at CityZen, 2941, Eve, Citronelle....and that wasn't the case 10-15 years ago. But it's still a destination restaurant.

    By the way, I wouldn't eat at Charlie Trotters at gunpoint. Something about his effected style on television is a real turn-off to me. His preparations seem to be reaching for something that doesn't exist, adding more to a dish than needs to be added, and tend to be wasteful of the ingredients. I put Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washingotn in the same category as Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert. I don't put Charlie Trotter in that category.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BigEats

      Big Eats,
      Thanks so much for that comeback. Really appreciate it. We disagree on Trotters, but I am sure agree on many others.

    2. It is a special dining experience, but I'm not sure any food is worth the price tag. The Inn itself is beautiful and gives you a French Laundry feel that you can't get in a restaurant in the city. If you are a fine foodie, which you seem to be, and are in the area, you should try it. It may not be head and shoulders above the rest, like it used to be, but it is still one of the best in the region.

        1. re: Ericandblueboy

          Hey Eric,
          We are actually coming for the hiking and meeting friends and staying in Sperryville at the Hopkins Ordinary. Our friends are taking us to some place in Mimslen? And we have the one night at the Inn. Any and all other recommendations would be appreciated. We are flying into IAD and then heading south and do not intend to stay in the city at all.
          We just didn't want to drag clothes along if the Inn really was past its prime and we would just end up writing a poor review here or on Zagat.

          1. re: zabriskibound

            We stayed at Hopkins Ordinary a year and a half ago when we went to the Inn for dinner. Hopkins is very nice and the owners are great. I very much recommend you have a meal at the Thornton River Grill right there in Sperryville -- a very short walk from Hopkins. Its a great small restaurant for lunch or dinner. Yes, the Inn is still worth it -- I am sure you will enjoy it. Please report back on your experience at the Inn and the Thornton River Grill if you go.

            Enjoy the food and hiking. Old Rag Mountain is a great hike, but go early due to crowds and parking issues.


            1. re: BRL

              BL and all,
              Thanks so much for all of your suggestions. We will post when we return and we surely will check out your recommendations.

            2. re: zabriskibound

              We celebrated my 60th birthday at the Inn about 6 weeks ago. It was as good as ever; we've been 6 or 7 times over the 18 years that we've been in the DC area. I had terrific veal sweetbreads with pappardelle pasta; my husband had a dish called something like "tuna masquerading as filet mignon" -- rare tuna topped with foie gras -- also wonderful (as were our other courses).

              As to other places to try, I highly recommend Foti's in Culpeper, whose chef/owner, Frank Maragos, trained at the Inn. Not as fancy or pricey as the Inn, but very innovative and high quality. (In fact, we're going there for a wine dinner tonight :-).) Apartment 2G in Front Royal is also interesting. There are also lots of wineries in the vicinity, if you enjoy winery visiting.

          2. I just posted this right after memorial day about our experience at IALW. Surprised you didn't see it.
            Yes it is worth it. It's consistently rated among the top 2 or 3 in the country and it still ives up to it. The service, wine list, innovative and luxurious ingredients are unique and best of class. There was lobster featured in 2 courses when we were there and i got both of them! You could easily wear nice summer clothes, not totally formal and be fine. For instance, i wore a sundress and sandals with heels (no hose) and had a little sweater for the A/C and my husband wore summer weight slacks and a shirt and tie. No big deal. You could wear those clothes again (without the tie) at any other decent place you will go and eat so you can get 2 uses out of one outfit. It's hard to describe; it's elegant without being stuffy or snooty; they make you feel very special without being fake out it, and of course the food speaks for itself. Make sure you try the 7 deadly sins for dessert -- although if one of you gets that and the other orders cheese you will have the pleaure of seeing (and hearing) the cheese cart coming thru the dinin groom (it moos).
            Pleasemake sure to post back after you dine.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DCDOLL

              Dh and I went last September and stayed overnight (it was his third visit there and my 4th) and it was very much worth it. I recommend the lamb carpaccio if it's still on the menu as well as the veal dish which included some fabulous ravioli. I'm a savory gal and got the cheese while Dh got the seven deadly sins.

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